One could wonder at times why the Conan RPG line was requiring specialists about Robert E. Howard like Jeffrey Shanks, who supervizes the whole project, Mark Finn or Patrice Louinet. After all, you could take all references from the Conan story and fill the gaps with "extended universe" material or entirely made-up things. But that's not the goal the RPG makers are after. Here are two statements made by Jeffrey Shanks in the Kickstarter comments that clarifies this goal, and it's quite ambitious:

"So how does What Would Howard Do? actually work? Well, first you have to understand the Conan stories aren't just fantasy stories. They hybrids of a number of popular pulp adventure genres with weird fiction elements added. They are pirate stories, cossack stories, crusades stories, westerns, jungle stories, even hard-boiled detective tales. And since Howard wrote non-Conan stories in many of these genres the first thing we can do is look at those foe inspiration. Secondly, we know many of the writers and books that Howard himself was reading and drawing inspiration from, so we can look those. This is the way I've been guiding our writers and it will really come to play as we do the sourcebooks.

But -- and this is very important -- we also want to use the core and source books to teach the GM how to do what Howard would do, they same way I'm guiding our writers.

That's what these career sourcebooks are all about. They aren't just splat books with geographical info and some new rules and adversaries. They are about how to run and play a game in the style of that particular genre -- to make it feel like you truly immersed in one of Howard's Conan stories. That's why this game will be the most Howardian Conan game ever made."

"Let me give you all an example. Let's take the Conan the Pirate book. We only have a handful of Conan pirate stories. None of them even take place at Tortage, the main port of the Barachan Isles. So we'll have to do a little fleshing out here and there. Fortunately, in addition to the Conan stories we have a whole book of Howard's non-Conan pirate stories to look at for inspiration. And conveniently, they've all been recently published by the REH Foundation:

Beyond that we can look at the authors Howard was reading, like Rafael Sabatini whose novel, Captain Blood, Howard would have read when it was serialized in the pulp magazine Adventure (and conveniently is available on Project Gutenberg).

Captain Blood takes place on the pirate stronghold of Tortuga, so we can use it to help flesh out Tortage, as this was obviously Howard's source of inspiration.

Howard was also a fan of the movies, so we can sometimes look at the films he might have seen, like the 1924 silent version of Captain Blood (only partially preserved unfortunately) or The Black Pirate (1926) with Douglas Fairbanks.

But the idea is to help the GM and players to run a Hyborian Age pirate session that feels like you are in one of Howard's own swashbuckling pirate tales, running down a booty-laden Zingarian merchantman or exploring the mysterious antediluvian ruins on a uncharted island or harrying the ports of Shem and Stygia with the fearsome corsairs of the Black Coast. That's what these books will be about -- how to run the game as though Howard himself was the GM."

conan kickstarter